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Background: Previously, yoga bellows-type breathing (bhastrika pranayama) reduced reaction time (RT) or reduced anticipatory responses in male participants or a mixed group of male and female participants.Aims: The present study as a control trial aimed to assess the effects of yoga bellows-type breathing on RT in females exclusively. Methods: The sample consisted of 25 healthy females, aged between 19 and 32 years (group mean ± standard deviation, 22.8 ± 3.5 years). All of them had prior minimum experience of yoga including yoga bellows-type breathing of 12 months. The RT was assessed in each participant before and after three randomized sessions differed in the intervention given held on three separate days. The sessions were (i) YOGA bellows-type breathing or bhastrika pranayama(BHK), (ii) Breath awareness (BAW), and (iii) Sitting quietly (CTL) as a control session. The duration of the intervention was 18 min, and the participants were assessed for RT before and after the intervention. Results: Repeated measures ANOVA, post hoc tests with Bonferroni adjusted showed that the time taken to obtain a correct response reduced significantly after 18 min of BAW (P < 0.05) and CTL (P < 0.05). However, no changes were seen in the RT after BHK. Conclusions: The results suggest that different interventions may optimize performance in tasks requiring attention in females compared to males.

Pre-teen children face stressors related to their transition from childhood to adolescence, with a simultaneous increase in academic pressure. The present study compared the immediate effects of 18 min of (i) high frequency yoga breathing with (ii) yoga-based breath awareness and (iii) sitting quietly, on (a) attention and (b) anxiety, in 61 pre-teen children (aged between 11 and 12 years; 25 girls). Attention was assessed using a six letter cancellation task and Spielberger's State Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI-S was used to measure anxiety before and after the three practices, practiced on separate days. Repeated measures ANOVA, followed by Bonferroni adjusted post-hoc analyses showed an increase in total attempts and net scores after high frequency yoga breathing (p < 0.05), while wrong attempts increased after yoga based breath awareness (p < 0.05). Anxiety decreased comparably after all three interventions. The 25 girls in the group had the same trend of results as the whole group with respect to the attention-based cancellation task, while boys showed no, how since change. For both girls and boys, anxiety decreased after all three 18min interventions. The results suggest that high frequency yoga breathing could be a short, useful school based practice to improve attention and reduce anxiety.

BACKGROUND: An earlier study showed that a week of yoga practice was useful in stress management after a natural calamity. Due to heavy rain and a rift on the banks of the Kosi river, in the state of Bihar in north India, there were floods with loss of life and property. A week of yoga practice was given to the survivors a month after the event and the effect was assessed.METHODS: Twenty-two volunteers (group average age +/- S.D, 31.5 +/- 7.5 years; all of them were males) were randomly assigned to two groups, yoga and a non-yoga wait-list control group. The yoga group practiced yoga for an hour daily while the control group continued with their routine activities. Both groups' heart rate variability, breath rate, and four symptoms of emotional distress using visual analog scales, were assessed on the first and eighth day of the program. RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in sadness in the yoga group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre) and an increase in anxiety in the control group (p < 0.05, paired t-test, post data compared to pre). CONCLUSIONS: A week of yoga can reduce feelings of sadness and possibly prevent an increase in anxiety in flood survivors a month after the calamity. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical Trials Registry of India: CTRI/2009/091/000285.

BACKGROUND: Following a natural disaster, survivors are vulnerable to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/ or depression.OBJECTIVES: (i) To screen survivors of the Bihar floods a month after the event to determine their scores in a screening questionnaire for PTSD and/ or depression and (ii) to correlate these scores with age and gender. MATERIALS AND METHODS: One thousand two hundred eighty-nine persons (645 females) who had been directly exposed to the floods in Bihar, India, in August 2008 were assessed. The Screening Questionnaire for Disaster Mental Health (SQD) was used to screen for PTSD and depression. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Separate two-factor ANOVAs were used to compare persons of both sexes and 5 different age groups for PTSD and depression scores. This was followed by post-hoc analysis for multiple comparisons. RESULTS: People over the age of 60 years had significantly higher scores for PTSD and depression compared to all groups (P< 0.05 for all comparisons). CONCLUSION: Following a natural disaster, older people appear more vulnerable to develop PTSD and depression. This should be taken into account in devising strategies for disaster relief.

The practice of yoga is gaining in popularity with a wide range of practices. Recent research and descriptions from the ancient texts are often concurrent with regard to the effects of the practice, taking into account expected differences between modern scientific terms and those used in the original texts. Voluntarily regulated yoga breathing practices form a bridge between physical and mental changes. The voluntarily regulated yoga breathing has distinct effects on metabolism, the autonomic nervous system, higher brain functions, and mental state. The effects of meditation on the nervous system and mental state are even clearer.